HEAD-TO-HEAD All-time meetings: Rajasthan Royals W4, Kings XI Punjab W4 Last meeting: Rajasthan Royals beat Kings XI Punjab by 15 runs
THE TEAM NEWS
Coach: Paddy Upton
Captain: Ajinkya Rahane
The Royals are desperate to win another IPL after having not even reached a final since their victory in the first 2008 tournament so they will be hoping for big things from their expensively-assembled set of players this time around.
Preparations have been much better for the team than they were last year with off-the-field issues for Ben Stokes and Steve Smith but those are all in the past now and they have all their key players available for this opening match.
Ashton Turner is yet to join up with the squad but Buttler, Stokes, Archer and Smith are likely to be the chosen four overseas players for this opening match although they will be keen to try find a spot for spinner Ish Sodhi so one of the two all-rounders in Stokes or Archer could be held out.
KINGS XI PUNJAB
Coach: Mike Hesson
Captain: Ravi Ashwin
There is pressure on Kings XI to start the campaign well and they will be hoping Chris Gayle can reproduce some of his best form to get them off to a fast start in Jaipur as they face the Royals.
KL Rahul and Gayle will open the batting and they rely heavily on that duo to get them off to a good start as there are question marks over the middle order where newcomer Nicholas Pooran will be a vital addition to the team.
Andrew Tye and Mujeeb Ur Rahman are expected to take the other two overseas spots to bolster their bowling unit which looks strong along with skipper Ravi Ashwin, Mohammad Shami and Varun Chakravarthy unless they decide to bring in big-money signing Sam Curran who will add some much-needed depth to their batting and he could start in place of Mujeeb.
A fascinating match in store in Jaipur as both of these teams will be desperate to get off to a fast start and pick up a win in their opening match. Man for man, the Royals have the edge in quality and it could be their depth in batting that gives them the edge. The fact that they can use Stokes and Archer as frontline bowlers yet provide strong batting in the middle order means they have plenty of flexibility to use different bowlers and include an extra batsman in their ranks. Kings XI are hit or miss and will either fire or fail emphatically. The Royals just have that more consistent and reliable look about them, and are favoured in this opening match.
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